Shaving mistakes you never knew you were making

woman shaving legs
Shaving seems to be one of
those necessary evils for many of us. Can you remember how old you were when
you began the lifelong battle with your body hair? According to Parents, many
girls start shaving around the time they enter puberty as this is when body
hair becomes thicker. These days, that could be as young as 8 or 9 years old.
Waiting until the tween years, however, is advised. Parents also suggests that
good shaving techniques be taught prior to your child being given a razor.
Makes sense.
Well, you’ve been shaving for
what feels likes forever at this point, so you’d know exactly how to teach
someone else to shave, right? As it turns out, we may be experienced when it
comes to shaving, but we’re far from pros. Whether you want to teach your child
or learn the right way for yourself, we’d all benefit from knowing how to shave
correctly. So, here are some of the absolute worst shaving mistakes we’re all
guilty of making and the reasons why we need to make some big changes in our
shaving routines.
using the wrong kind of razor
woman shaving razor

Shaving is expensive. There’s
really no way around it. CBS Minnesota reported that it can cost between $20 to
$30 to shave. The Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power razor, for example, works out
to be about $1 each shave — and that’s for a man. We ladies have the curse of
shaving a greater surface area. 
It may be tempting to pick up
the cheapest multipack of razors you can find, but New York-based dermatologist
Marnie Nussbaum doesn’t think that’s the best idea. “The razor does
matter,” she told Bustle. Single-bladed razors can’t really compare to the
close shave of two- or three-bladed razors. More blades than that, however, and
you may run into problems.
“A razor with more than
three blades cuts the hair too short,” Christopher O’Connell, a cosmetic
dermatologist based in Miami, explained. When hair is cut too short, it can
cause those pesky — and often painful — ingrown hairs.
shave in the tub

woman shaving in tub

It may be easier and more
comfortable to shave in the tub than in the shower, but, as with many things in
life, the easy way often isn’t the best way. Heather Wilson, an esthetician and
director of brand development for InstaNatural skin care products, told
Byrdie why the bathtub isn’t quite right for shaving.
“Although a warm bath
does soften the hair and make your shave feel more comfortable, the water also
makes skin swell,” she explained. 
This means that when your skin
is swollen, you won’t be able to get as close of a shave as you would’ve
otherwise. It may not seem like a big deal, but if a close shave is what you
desire, then it really is. When you get out of the tub and the water-induced
swelling subsides, you’ll have legs full of stubble — not the bare, smooth
skin you were probably expecting. Shaving in the shower is a much more
efficient way to get a close shave.
(sometimes) dry-shave
woman shaving under arms
It’s the first nice spring
day. You’re in a hurry so you don’t have time to hop in the shower, but you
just have to wear that super cute sundress you just bought. Your fur-lined legs
insist a quick shave before brave the outside world. So, what do you do? 
You may just be tempted to
just grab your nearest razor and start hacking away at your leg hair, enduring
the pain and dealing with the redness afterward. You may already have a hunch
that dry-shaving isn’t the best idea, but Joel Schlessinger, a board-certified
dermatologist, tells us why this is.
“Shaving cream and gel
were designed to help your razor glide gently across your skin without tugging
or pulling,” he said when speaking to Women’s Health. When you dry-shave,
he explained, you’re “most certainly” left to deal with everything
from razor burn to skin damage to cuts. It’s not worth it, ladies!
rush through shaving
woman shaving legs while on phone
Even if you’re not one to
attempt shaving dry, you may still rush through the shaving process. Shaving
isn’t exactly a fun experience and you’ve likely been doing it for years, so it
makes sense to want to speed up the process. 
A survey by the beauty product
brand Ecestunal (via The Telegraph) discovered just how much time we’re
dedicating to getting rid of body hair: 72 days. That’s right, 72 days of our
lives are spent shaving our legs. The worst part? We probably need to be
spending more. 
“You’re more likely to
nick yourself, irritate your skin, or miss spots when you’re trying to shave
too quickly,” Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and
Cosmetic Surgery in New York City, told Women’s Health UK. Instead of rushing,
he advised working carefully and using “smooth, even strokes” as a
way to prevent both cuts and irritation.
often forget to wash up before shaving
woman shaving legs
If you’re going to lather up
your legs with shaving cream anyway, do you really need to wash your limbs with
soap first? It may sound somewhat like an unnecessary step, but when you really
think about it, it makes a whole lot of sense. You’re literally going to push a
sharp blade against your skin and if that skin is dirty (aka full of bacteria)?
Ew! Pretty gross, wouldn’t you say?
Dermatologist Melissa
Kanchanapoomi Levin, a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Icahn School of
Medicine, says your shaving routine should begin with soap and water. This is
essentially how you get your skin ready for a close shave. “Wetting the
skin and hair with warm water and gentle soap softens the hair and skin,”
she told Cosmopolitan.
So, it all boils down to this:
If you want smooth clean legs, you really can’t afford to skip scrubbing
shave in the wrong direction
woman shaving legs
The American Academy of
Dermatology lists shaving in the direction your hair grows as a vital step in
preventing razor burn and bumps. This means you should be
shaving down the leg as opposed to up. If that’s the case, why do so
many women shave in the opposite, and not recommended, direction? Likely for a
closer shave. 
Neal Schultz, a cosmetic
dermatologist, told Good Housekeeping that shaving “against the
grain” may indeed get you a closer shave, but it also ups your chances of
cutting yourself and irritating your skin. Here’s what to do if you still want
that close shave: Shave down your leg first. Then, follow Schultz’s advice to
“reapply the gel and shave again — against the direction of the
hair growth.” This is the safest way to get a close, “wrong”
direction shave. Those with very sensitive skin, however, should never shave up
(against the direction of hair growth).
use soap when you run out of shaving cream
woman shaving legs with soap
It can be tempting to reach
for the bar of soap when you’ve realized you’ve run out of shaving cream, but
that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. As it turns out, soap is far from being a
viable replacement for the lathering shaving foam or gel we should be
“It doesn’t create enough
lubrication for a razor to slide easily against your skin, which can up the
odds of cuts,” Dermatologist Ellen Gendler explained to Good
“When you think about it,
men would never shave without a shave prep, and that’s for a reason,” New
York City dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Icahn School of
Medicine Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin explained to Cosmopolitan. That’s
certainly true. We should take a lesson from the dudes in this situation and
stick to solely using shaving cream. After all, it is its intended
can admit it, you don’t exfoliate before shaving
woman exfoliating legs
Do you know anyone who
exfoliates as much as they should? According to the dermatologists who spoke
with Health, most women should be exfoliating twice a week. If you have
oily skin, you can even get away with exfoliating more often than twice a week.
If you’re someone who often neglects exfoliating, you should try to at least
exfoliate before you shave.
“Women tend to forget
that exfoliating the legs prior to razor use will remove the dead skin cells,
allowing easier gliding and better hair removal,” Dr. Nussbaum told
Not only does exfoliating make
for an easier time shaving, it can also “dramatically decrease”
ingrown hairs and even razor bumps, according to Dr. Nussbaum. And, let’s be
honest, razor bumps suck and ingrown hairs are downright awful. If there’s a
way to prevent them, or at least have fewer occurrences, it’s definitely worth
giving it a shot. 
use your disposable razor for way, way too long
woman shaving under arms in shower
Disposable razors are often
the cheapest you can buy and you really get your money’s worth if you use them
for as long as possible, right? Maybe, but the damage you’re doing negates the
pennies saved.
“Dull blades are more
likely to cause razor bumps, irritation, nicks, and cuts,” Dr.
Schlessinger explained to Women’s Health. As if that weren’t bad
enough, Dr. Schlessinger also said old blades can be home to bacteria. And with
bacteria, it may not be long before infection starts to follow.
“A good rule of thumb is
if you feel like it’s tugging at your hair or skin, toss it — it’s most
definitely a ticking time bomb waiting to irritate,” Dr. Engelman added.
Even if you feel like your disposable razor could hang in a little longer, you
should probably aim to toss it after a week. Yes, a week. Any more than that
and you’re really flirting with disaster. 
borrow your partner’s razor from time to time — eek!
pink and blue razors
What do you do when you lather
up your legs, all ready to shave, only to realize you’ve forgotten your razor?
Your eyes may instantly hone in on your partner’s blade. While you may think
it’s easier just to use theirs, don’t do it! Yes, you should actually get out
of the shower and hunt down your own. That, or skip shaving, of course.
You may love your partner, but
do you love them enough to share fungal infections? In this case, sharing is
not caring. Dermatologist Whitney Bowe explained to InStyle, saying,
“Shaving results in tiny nicks in the skin and those openings can allow
bacteria to enter and spread infection.” Bowe said this means you’re
making yourself “vulnerable to warts” as well as “bacterial and
fungal infections.” What’s worse, if there happens to be blood on the
razor, transmitting blood viruses is all too possible.
Even if you spy your husband’s
never-been-used razor sitting in the shower, you probably shouldn’t reach for
it.  “Women’s razors are designed to help shave large surface
areas whereas men’s razors are made for shaving their face,” Bowe
explained. Yes, to each his own … razor.
shave too hard
woman shaving legs

It may almost be instinct for
you to want to apply a lot of pressure when shaving. You may feel that pushing
hard equates to a closer shave. It doesn’t.
Dr. Engelman explained the
nitty-gritty behind shaving pressure to Women’s Health, saying, “The
harder you bear down, the more uneven the skin surface becomes, because you are
essentially creating dimples where the blade falls.”
If you aren’t getting a close
shave without applying a significant amount of pressure, you may want to
examine the blades of the razor you’re using. “It’s the same thing as
knives,” New York-based dermatologist Amy Wechsler explained to Teen
Vogue. “People think you’re more likely to get hurt with a sharp
knife, but a dull knife is actually more dangerous to use because you have to
push harder to get it to work.” Why do all the extra work with none of the
benefits? New sharp razors are your friends. 
leave your razor on the ledge of the tub
woman leaving razor in tub
The flat ledges of a tub may
seem like the best place to keep your razor. After all, you’ll never have to
hop out of the shower while soaking wet to track it down. Nevertheless, it’s
still a pretty terrible idea to keep your razor in that location.
While most razor blades are
made of stainless steel, which is impervious to rust, water and razors still
don’t mix all that well. Keeping your razor on the ledge of your tub means it
will get drenched in water with every shower you, or anyone else in your
household, take. 
“The water exposure can
make it dull faster, and it’s just not clean,” Dr. Levin put it bluntly
when speaking with Cosmopolitan. “You’re bathing your razor in a pool
of water that just sits there.” Okay, okay, it’s time for all of us to
find new homes for our razors.

You don’t moisturize after shaving
woman applying lotion to legs
What you do after shaving is
arguably as important as what you do before and during. “Dry skin can
become irritated more easily than moisturized skin,” Esthetician Heather
Wilson told Byrdie. Wilson further explained that irritated skin becomes more
prone to problems like redness and ingrown hairs. Skipping the moisturizer
after shaving is quite a bad idea. Instead, Wilson recommends applying either a
lightweight lotion or body oil.
While Wilson favors rosehip
seed oil for post-shaving application, you could also opt for coconut oil.
Vermén Verallo-Rowell, a dermatologist and founder of the skincare
line VMV Hypoallergenics, explained to Byrdie that it contains
“anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits to repair and soothe the
Whichever type of oil or
lotion you determine to be best for you, the most important thing is that you
remember to use it. Shaving puts our skin through a lot so, doesn’t it deserve
some lovin’?
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.